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Hopes for a u-turn over cuts to Norfolk’s mobile libraries look set to be dashed

PUBLISHED: 15:31 05 May 2014 | UPDATED: 17:01 05 May 2014

A u-turn on cuts to Norfolk's mobile libraries looks unlikely. Picture: James Bass

A u-turn on cuts to Norfolk's mobile libraries looks unlikely. Picture: James Bass

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2012

Hopes that Norfolk’s mobile libraries could be handed a reprieve to restore how often they visit villages around the county look set to be dashed.

As part of a package of £167m of cuts, Norfolk County Council agreed in February to reduce the frequency of how often mobile libraries call at dozens of villages across the county.

That saw 31 routes changed, so mobile libraries only call once every four weeks rather than fortnightly, with council bosses saying that would save £109,000.

However, in March, the council backed a motion, by 40 votes to 30, from then Conservative leader Bill Borrett asking the Labour/Liberal Democrat cabinet to halt the cuts.

That motion said cuts should be put on ice while work was done to see if there were other ways to raise money to protect mobile libraries, such as by making them available to other services.

But, at a meeting next Monday, officers will recommend the cabinet sticks with its original decision.

Harold Bodmer, director of community services, said, in a report which will come before councillors: “A consequence of reverting to the previous frequency of visits is that £54,500 of planned saving would not be achieved.

“No opportunities have been identified that could offset this cost.”

He added the council faces £30m in costs after it voted last month to pull the plug on a deal with Cory Wheelabrator to build and run an incinerator at King’s Lynn.

He said any proposal to increase the budget for mobile libraries needed to take the council’s “reduced financial flexibility”, as it looks to replenish reserves, into account.

He added the council already works with partners, such as the NHS, St Hohn Ambulance and adult education, to provide services through mobile libraries, but that generated very little income.

• What do you think of mobile libraries? Tell us by writing, with full contact details, to Letters Editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE.

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